"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. "
-Albert Einstein

Friday, August 7, 2015

Politics and religion...two things that should NEVER be mixed.

The 2016 campaign season is upon us.  With the first GOP debate last night, the pundits are already clamoring about who stands for what and who is the front runner.  I didn't watch the debates last night but I have been reading all the articles discussing who had the best zingers, one liners and applause-getting statements.  In nearly every article I have read, it seems that most of the GOP contenders mentioned God or their faith at least once.  I also know that these candidates know their audience...conservative, predominantly white, middle class, Bible belt Christians.  With that being said, I am appalled at the ignorance of these people.  I say 'ignorance' not in a mean, spiteful way, but more as a lack of knowledge way.  The majority of Conservatives value and cherish their individual freedoms and liberty, so when I hear these 'freedom loving Conservatives' clamoring on about faith and god, it makes me shake my head and think...you don't understand true freedom.  These candidates want to 'lead according to what God directs'...but they are treading a dangerous road by even saying such a thing.

When our founding fathers came to draw up the papers of the Declaration of Independence, and eventual Constitution of this great nation, they were very specific about the 'freedom of religion'.  Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying, "believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof', thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."  Jefferson and others knew that in their position of leading the country, they most definitely could NOT impose their PERSONAL beliefs regarding faith into decisions made for the entire country.  Behavior like this may seem harmless at the start, but before long we are living in a monotheist country.

Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense and Age of Reason, also a founding father, saw the dangers of imposing religion upon the citizens of this new Republic.  He is quoted as saying, "Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law."  He knew that any sort of religion mandated by the government or law would obviously be tyrannical.  "Mingling religion with politics may be disavowed and re probated by every inhabitant of America."  He knew, even then that it is dangerous and ill advised to govern the country with any sort of religious leaning.  If we value our freedoms and liberty at all, we need to stand up against any potential leader who tries to govern from a faith based initiative.

Sam Harris, a well known neurosurgeon and avid Atheist, is quoted as saying, "we live in a country in which a person cannot get elected president if he/she openly doubts the existence of heaven and hell....in our next presidential election, an actor who reads his Bible would almost certainly defeat a rocket scientist who does not.  Could there be any clearer indication that we are allowing unreason and other-worldliness to govern our affairs?"  He hits the nail on the head.  We are all so ingrained with the notion that morals come from god or faith...and that if the leader of our country has faith or governs by the bible, this is a good thing.  If a potential president has his faith or beliefs, that is his/her prerogative, but it becomes all of our problem if he/she makes governing decisions based upon that said belief.  The faithful are quick to shout, "Freedom of religion!" but what about "Freedom FROM religion"??  I do believe our founding fathers had BOTH in mind when forging the guidelines for our Republic, but so many do not see it this way.  So many feel that in order to have a strong, free country, we must include a god or faith based doctrine.

We as voters, need to be educated on our freedoms and ever vigilant to protect them ALL, even if it means protecting freedoms of one who may believe differently than you.  And with that,  I will end with a quote by James Madison, in A Memorial and Remonstrance, "What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society?  In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been guardians of the liberties of the people.  Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries.  A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."